For us, as a family, the winter period is the time of the year when we thoroughly enjoy being together in and on the snow. Our trip invariably goes to beautiful Itter in Tirol, Austria.

When we went up the Salvistabahn on our first day, we did not expect to be warmly welcomed by a dog. With great enthusiasm, young Anton Donald, a crossbreed Bernersennen Dog-Border Collie with call sign Toni, approached us wagging his tail to say hello.

I got talking to owner Hannes Margreiter, who works as a chef at the Salvistabahn, about how it is that his dog comes along and is allowed to come to his workplace. ‘Apart from the fact that Toni and I are always together, a kind of me-and-my-shadow effect, this is also a real workplace for my dog. He sees all the people as his friends and makes all the guests happy. They come and pet him incessantly and then they laugh,’ Hannes told me excitedly. ‘Toni is not only all love, but he also makes everyone love and feel good. He puts everyone at ease.’

That’s because dogs are pure and can observe people’s behaviour well. They notice immediately if something is wrong. So they can sense emotions unerringly and get influenced by the state of mind people are in.

Even though we had already started our day in a good mood, the happy mood became even stronger when we stepped off the gondola on the mountain and a dog showered us with its uninhibited cheerfulness. ‘Toni is a great friend to me as well as everyone who passes by here. It is quite special what he does, because he is actually an all-rounder: from loving lift attendant to a kind of assistance dog in the snow. And I don’t mean he rescues people,’ Hannes clarified. ‘He is more of an assistance dog because of the comfortable feeling he brings. Snow and water are completely thing, then he is totally happy.’

After our conversation, I quickly took some pictures and we whirled down the mountain with an intensely happy experience. Only to take the lift one more time for a big hug from that sweet Toni.

This article was published in Our Dog magazine. The magazine for dog lovers. Issue 2024, number 4.